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Trumpeter Whiting (2020)

Sillago maculata

  • Matt Broadhurst (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

Date Published: June 2021

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Summary

Trumpeter Whiting occur along the eastern Australia coastline from northern QLD to southern NSW. The species' biological stock structure is unknown. Trumpeter Whiting is classified as a sustainable stock in NSW and is undefined in QLD.

Photo: Sydney Fish Market

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
New South Wales New South Wales Sustainable

Commercial catch and CPUE, and length and age

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Stock Structure

Trumpeter whiting are distributed along the east coast of Australia from Lizard Island, Queensland to Narooma, New South Wales [Kailola et al., 1993]. The species is most abundant in southern Queensland, and especially Moreton Bay [Maclean 1971, Weng 1983, 1986], but information on biological stock boundaries remains unknown. Separate assessments of Trumpeter Whiting have been done in Queensland and New South Wales [Burchmore et al. 1988, Coull et al. 1995, Melville and Connolly 2003, Kendall and Gray 2009, Krük et al. 2009].

 

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Queensland and New South Wales.

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Stock Status

New South Wales

Trumpeter Whiting occur throughout New South Wales estuaries (with juveniles favouring seagrass areas and shallow habitats, while adults are common down to ~30 m), but commercial fishing effort is focused mostly between the Myall Lakes and Lake Illawarra [Gray and Kennelly 2003]. Up to 80% of the total commercial catch comes from hauling and seine nets, with the remainder bycaught by prawn trawlers in the Hawkesbury River [Gray et al. 1990]. Commercial catches peaked at 78 tonnes (t) in 1990–00, and then declined, but have remained fairly steady at 13 to 23 t in the past five years. The decline in commercial catches mirrors a contraction of fishing effort, including closures in previously exploited estuaries (such as Botany Bay and Port Jackson), and fewer operators in remaining estuaries. Consequently, commercial catch rates have remained consistent over the past few years. 

A bag limit of 20 whiting (all species combined) provides some control over recreational effort, but there is no legal size for Trumpeter Whiting which often manifests as low rates of release (up to 19% of the total catch; West et al. [2015]). The most recent estimate of the recreational harvest of Trumpeter Whiting in NSW (assuming correct species identification by anglers) was ~31 562 fish during 2017–18 [Murphy et al. 2020]. This estimate was based on a survey of recreational fishing licence (RFL) households, which comprised at least one person with a long-term (one or three year) fishing licence, but also included other fishers within the household. A similar survey of RFL households was done in 2013–14 during which an estimated 123 580 Trumpeter Whiting were recreationally harvested. Using mean weights of fish from Henry and Lyle [2003], these numbers equate to ~7 and 27 t.

Few Australian studies have assessed population parameters for Trumpeter Whiting, and there are no current estimates of mortality, although fishing mortality in New South Wales would be expected to have decreased due to reducing commercial fishing effort. Further, prior to the major reductions in commercial effort, Kendall and Gray [2009] revealed no changes in the population structure of Trumpeter Whiting in two central New South Wales estuaries over an eight-year period (1997 to 2004). Historical length-frequency data show no declines in mean sizes [Kendall and Gray 2008].

Spawning occurs during spring and summer and appears to be somewhat protracted, possibly reflecting water temperatures and with concomitant differences between estuaries [Burchmore et al. 1988, Kendall and Gray 2009]. Like other whiting species, female Trumpeter Whiting have indeterminate fecundity and probably spawn multiple times over summer (Kendall and Gray 2009]. Size-at-age data derived from otoliths suggest Trumpeter Whiting grow quite quickly, with both sexes reaching mean sizes of maturity at ~15–19 cm FL, and at 1–3 years. Maximum sizes have been estimated at up to 25 cm FL and are slightly larger among females, which also reach an older age (12 vs 9 years). Kendall and Gray [2003] estimated catches in two central New South Wales estuaries at mostly 2–4 years old. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the New South Wales stock is unlikely to be depleted, that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired, and that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired. 

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the New South Wales management unit is classified as a sustainable stock

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Biology

Trumpeter Whiting biology [Burchmore et al. 1988, Kendall and Gray 2009]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Trumpeter Whiting

Longevity/maximum size: 12 years, 25 cm FL

 Maturity 1–3 years; 14.6 to 19.2 cm FL

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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Trumpeter Whiting

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Tables

Fishing methods
New South Wales
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Various
Seine Nets
Commercial
Haul Seine/Beach Seine
Charter
Handline
Indigenous
Handline
Recreational
Handline
Management methods
Method New South Wales
Charter
Bag limits
Fishing gear and method restrictions
Licence
Limited entry
Possession limit
Spatial closures
Commercial
Fishing gear and method restrictions
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Indigenous
Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority
Recreational
Bag limits
Fishing gear and method restrictions
Licence
Spatial closures
Catch
New South Wales
Commercial 13.22t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 7 to 27 t

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing

New South Wales – Recreational (catch) Murphy et al. [2020].

New South Wales – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Trumpeter Whiting - note confidential catch not shown

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References

  1. Burchmore, J.J., Pollard, D.A., Middleton, M.J., Bell, J.D., Pease,B.C. (1988). Biology of four species of whiting (Pisces: Sillaginidae) in Botany Bay, New South Wales. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39, 709–727.
  2. Coull, B.C., Greenwood, J.G., Fielder, D.R. and Coull, B.A. (1995) Subtropical Australian juvenile fish eat meiofauna: experiments with winter whiting Sillago maculata and observations on other species. Marine Ecology Progress Series 125, 13–19.
  3. Gray, C.A, McDonnall, V.C. and Reid, D.D. (1990). Bycatch from prawn trawling in the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales: Species composition, distribution and abundance. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41, 13–26.
  4. Gray, C.A. and Kennelly, S. (2003). Catch characteristics of the commercial beach-seine fisheries in two Australian barrier estuaries. Fisheries Research 63, 405–422.
  5. Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and indigenous fishing survey. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, Australia. ISSN 1440–3544.
  6. Kailola, P. J., Williams, M.J. Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R. E., McNee, A. and Graive, C. (1993). Australian Fisheries Recourses. Canberra, Australia. Vol. Australian Fisheries Resources pp.18-320 (Bureau of Resource Sciences, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation; Brisbane).
  7. Kendall, B.W. and Gray, C.A. (2009). Reproduction, age and growth of Sillago maculata in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 25, 529–536.
  8. Krück, N.C., Chargulaf, C.A., Saint-Paul, U. and Tibbetts, I. (2009). Early post-settlement habitat and diet shifts and the nursery function of tidepools during Sillago spp. recruitment in Moreton Bay, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 384, 207–219.
  9. Maclean, JL, 1971, The food and feeding of winter whiting (Sillago maculata Quoy and Gaimard) in Moreton Bay. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 96, 87–92.
  10. Melville, A.J. and Connolly, R.M. (2003). Spatial analysis of stable isotope data to determine primary sources of nutrition for fish. Oecologia 135, 499–507.
  11. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes, JM 2020, The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
  12. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  13. Teixeira, D, Janes, R, and Webley, J 2021, 2019–20 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey Key Results. Project Report. State of Queensland, Brisbane.
  14. Weng, HT, 1983, Identification, habitats and seasonal occurrence of juvenile whiting (Sillaginidae) in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Journal of Fish Biology, 23(2), 195–200.
  15. Weng, HT, 1986, Spatial and temporal distribution of whiting (Sillaginidae) in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Journal of Fish Biology, 29(6), 755–764.
  16. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Doyle FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14, Fisheries Final Report Series.
  17. Williams, LE 2002, Queensland's fisheries Resources - Current condition and recent trends 1988 - 2000, Department of Primary Industries Queensland., Brisbane.

Downloadable reports

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